Starting this week, City Hall will speak with a new voice.
Elizabeth Benton ’04 began work Monday as Adam Joseph’s replacement as City Hall spokesperson after Joseph left to work as press secretary for the state Senate’s Democrats. Benton, a former City Hall reporter for the New Haven Register and reporter for the Yale Herald during her undergraduate years, comes to her new job as Mayor John DeStefano’s mouthpiece from a year and a half working as his liaison to the Board of Aldermen.
A Yale graduate with a degree in East Asian studies, Benton worked full-time at the Register after she graduated. In her new capacity as City Hall spokeswoman, she will serve as the administration’s voice, handling nearly all City Hall communications.
As DeStefano’s legislative liaison, Benton said she was responsible for working with the aldermen to develop the mayor’s agenda and shape city policy.
Board of Aldermen President Carl Goldfield, who said he got to know Benton during her time working for both the Register and the mayor, described her as “very competent, very smart and determined,” adding that she is always “pleasant and unflappable.” These qualities made her “good at what she did,” he said.
“I’m glad she’s staying with the city,” said Goldfield, who will leave the Board this winter after 20 years representing Ward 29. “I think she makes a contribution to the administration and to the city in general.”
Benton said she anticipates having to learn how the job works on her own, as Joseph has left New Haven to take on his new job in Hartford. But Benton, who said she worked with Joseph as “part of a small team” in DeStefano’s office, has already filled in for Joseph in the past, including earlier this month when Joseph took a few days off following his wedding.
When reached by phone Monday evening, Joseph declined to comment.
Ward 7 Alderman-elect Doug Hausladen ’04 said he thinks Benton will do a “good job” in her new position, given her past experiences.
“Obviously, she has an inside-out knowledge of city hall and city politics from her time as a reporter and as a legislative assistant,” Hausladen said. He added that he thinks New Haven residents are not as well-informed as they could be, and believes Benton could play a role in better informing citizens.
Hausladen said he and Benton were distant acquaintances during their time as undergraduates, so his experience working with Benton is primarily through her work as a legislative liaison while he was chair of the Downtown Community Management Team. In his capacity as chair, Hausladen added, Benton provided him with helpful information on a Route 34 development-related project as well as “navigating City Hall” to aid in a fundraising project.
Benton, meanwhile, said that she is excited to take on her new role.
“I think it’s an opportunity to stay closely involved in all of the issues that I care about going on in the city, and it returns me, partially at least, to my roots in journalism and writing,” Benton said. “I think I’m just looking forward to getting the word out about all the things going on in New Haven.”
In his new position, Joseph will manage a staff of seven people and report to the state Senate Democrats’ Chief of Staff Derek Slap, also an alumnus of New Haven’s top communications post. Goldfield said that as of Monday, nobody had been selected to fill Benton’s former position of DeStefano’s legislative liaison.
Benton’s appointment marks DeStefano’s 11th spokesperson since he assumed office in 1994.